Contending With God?
By Paul Smithson
The book of 1 Samuel begins with the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Chapter one tells how she was unable to conceive and bare a child. It tells us how she went up to the house of the Lord and prayed for herself to be able to conceive and vowed to the Lord that if she did she would dedicate the child to the service of God. God allowed Hannah to bare a son, Samuel, and Hannah kept her vow. After she weaned him she took Samuel up to the house of the Lord in Shiloh to serve there. After doing this Hannah prayed unto God, praising Him for His power, strength, and salvation He provides (1Sam. 2:1-10). Throughout this prayer of praise a contrast is made between the godly and the wicked. It is a contrast between those who would be on the Lord’s side and those who would fight against God. Those who are on the Lord’s side and strive to be godly are exalted, comforted, and victorious. But the ones who oppose God are brought low and destroyed. This especially stands out in the two concluding verses of the prayer. “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail. Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered…” (1Sam. 2:9-10).
Just think about the idea of fighting against God! How futile and hopeless, to contend with the Almighty, who is complete in power and strength; pure in justice and righteousness. Yet, that is exactly what we do when we continue in sin. Regardless of the good we may do, when we hold back a part of ourselves for sin we are contending with God, fighting against Him. All of us at some time have been God’s enemies, for as the apostle reminds us, “all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Thus, every one of us deserves to be shattered by the wrath of God. Yet, while we were His enemy, fighting against Him in our sinful rebellion, God provided the means that we might be forgiven and reconciled to Him (Rom. 5:8-10). God is willing to forgive us of all our hostile acts of the past and allow us to start a new life through repentance and baptism (Rom. 6:3-7).
How foolish if we continue in sin and rebellion. Anyone who continues to live in sin is an enemy of God. There is no middle ground. Jesus declared, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Mt. 12:30). And the Scriptures tell us of that a day is coming when there will be an eternal separation of those who have come to the Lord and those who continue to work against Him (2Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 20:11-15). For those who will turn from sin and seek forgiveness though Christ there will be eternal blessing. However, as Hannah stated in her prayer centuries ago, “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered.”